Top basketball players of the century: Boys No. 7, Johnny Moran of Jacobs

  • Jacobs' Johnny Moran reacts after hitting a last-second shot against Dundee-Crown in a 2007 game.

      Jacobs' Johnny Moran reacts after hitting a last-second shot against Dundee-Crown in a 2007 game. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Updated 5/30/2020 11:50 PM

Johnny Moran could do it all.

A four-time all-area selection, the versatile Jacobs guard was named a Daily Herald All-Area Team Captain in 2007 and 2008.


Moran could score.

His 1,918 career points eclipsed the previous school record of 1,559 set by 2004 graduate Eric Verneisel, himself a two-time all-area captain who played at California.

Additionally, Moran is Jacobs' all-time leader in field goals (721), field goals attempted (1,496), made free throws (280), 3-point field goals (196) and 3-point field goals attempted (566). His 196 career 3-pointers ranked second in program history at the time.

Moran could pass.

Teammates had to stay alert due to his superior court vision. He dazzled fans and opponents alike with no-look passes, long leads to ignite the fast break and improbable bounce passes through traffic. His 483 career assists remain a school record.

Moran could play defense.

The same court vision and instincts that allowed him to pass the ball so effectively also helped him intercept it. Though he is not listed on the IHSA website's among the state's all-time steals leaders, his 344 career thefts would rank eighth all-time.

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Others competed as hard as Moran. None competed harder.

The third of four brothers who played basketball at Jacobs, he learned how to scrap and claw during bruising pickup games in the driveway of Jim and Rita Moran's Algonquin home. Those battles helped forge a competitive drive.

That drive manifested itself in hustle at the high school level. Constantly diving after loose balls became a hallmark of Moran's game. He left skin on the floor because he left nothing in the tank.

Moran enjoyed a successful four-year college career at Northern Iowa. His 135 career starts, including a postseason starts all four seasons, set a program record. The Panthers won at least 20 games in each of his four seasons. A highlight was an upset victory over top overall seed Kansas in the 2010 NCAA Tournament that sent Northern Iowa to the Sweet 16.

The college memories are sweet, but Moran said his high school days remain the main topic of conversation whenever he sees his brothers, Jim, Kevin and Tim.


"We still talk about it quite a bit," he said. "It was a really important time in my family's life. There were three of us playing for two years. It was just a really special time we'll never forget as a family, just the memories that we share and that we can still talk about nowadays."

Moran spent two years as a Northern Iowa graduate assistant coach, then two years as an assistant. He is now a project manager for an architectural sheet metal company in Waterloo, Iowa.

Johnny and wife Kelsey married in June 2018. They live in Cedar Falls. The couple welcomed daughter Riley in June 2019.

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